by: Rick Cooper [ ]
A double review today of the two latest releases, #16 and 17, from Steel Masters ‘Tank Zone’ series. This series is dedicated to investigating the history and development of various armored vehicles and ordinance as well as the various campaigns and battles over the past century. As such, there are no articles in this series concerning any of the many aspects of model building; for that kind of information you will need to access any of the other fine publications that these folks regularly produce. However, if you are looking for some inspiration or want a bit more of the history beyond the one or two paragraphs we normally see in modeling publications, then this is the magazine for you!
First disclaimer, these magazines are produced for a French speaking audience, i.e., they are written in French. Unfortunately there is no English translation yet available, but if you have even the slightest understanding of French you can muddle through; I never realized how handy those two years of high school French would be!
Each issue is absolutely packed with photos, illustrations, charts, and maps that are simply first rate, I honestly don’t believe anyone does a consistently better job than these guys do. The color illustrations and profiles are done by the likes of Jean Restayn and Christophe Camillote among others, and are often worth the price of the magazine alone. Each article is well supported by high quality photography and none skimp on length, most articles fall in the 12 to 20 page range with few exceptions and each issue is 82 pages in length.
Issue 16 features a nice article on the German encirclement battle of Uman during which Army Group South destroyed the Soviet 6th and 12th Armies. As an additional piece on campaigns the issue also features the first part of an article on the French campaign to liberate the island of Elba.
There are two articles included on artillery in this issue; the first on the legendary German 88mm PaK 43, always a popular piece of heavy duty hardware, and an article on the ‘Theodor’series of railroad guns that the Germans employed. Either the publishers of Tank Zone seem to have a strange attraction to railroad guns or it is just coincidence but every issue of the magazine that I have seen has included an article about rail guns, it is a nice article with some nice photography.
As far as articles on actual vehicles this issue comes through with three nice ones, a piece on the Sherman Tulip, the rocket armed Sherman that the British employed, and another on the Royal Artillery’s quest to motorize the branch. The Royal Artillery article covers the period from 1919 to 1935 and is part three of a longer series published in earlier editions. The final vehicle article is the first of a two part series that concerns the various upgrades given to the T-55/T-62 series by the Soviet Bloc during the 70s and 80s.
Issue 17 continues the rail gun theme with a nice article on the famous Paris gun employed by the Germans in the First World War. Lots of good photography and sketches in this one, particularly the photos of the damage that the big monsters wrought and the emplacements they used.
The issue also has three different articles regarding particular tanks, one on the Char D1, a clearly underrepresented, yet important, early vehicle. Secondly, the first of a multi part article on the Skoda 35(t) with some superb illustrations and drawings that outline the tanks history and development. Finally, the cover story article on the Churchill, which is the second of a multipart series, that details the marks III, IV, and V of the tank. Again, and I know this sounds like a broken record, but plenty of high quality photography and illustrations throughout.
You will also find two articles that are follow-ups to multipart series that they are running. The first is the second part of the article on the French conquest of Elba in June of 1944. The other multipart article is the third part of an article on the North Vietnamese Easter Offensive of 1972 and the attack on An Loc.
Finally, my favorite article in the issue, the story of the British Territorial Army 12th and 23rd Divisions and the mauling they received at the hands of Panzergroup Kleist in front of Arras. Again, the illustrations, profiles, maps, and photography are nothing short of first rate.
Once again the publishers have put together two more outstanding issues. I know the French text will slow down some but you owe it to yourself to pick up one of these to see for yourself.